The DICT Development Group
2 definitions found
for To keep at arm''s length
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :
Keep \Keep\ (k[=e]p), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Kept (k[e^]pt); p.
pr. & vb. n. Keeping.] [OE. k[=e]pen, AS. c[=e]pan to keep,
regard, desire, await, take, betake; cf. AS. copenere lover,
OE. copnien to desire.]
1. To care; to desire. [Obs.]
I kepe not of armes for to yelp [boast]. --Chaucer.
2. To hold; to restrain from departure or removal; not to let
go of; to retain in one's power or possession; not to
lose; to retain; to detain.
If we lose the field,
We can not keep the town. --Shak.
That I may know what keeps me here with you.
If we would weigh and keep in our minds what we are
considering, that would instruct us. --Locke.
3. To cause to remain in a given situation or condition; to
maintain unchanged; to hold or preserve in any state or
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal. --Milton.
Keep a stiff rein, and move but gently on.
Note: In this sense it is often used with prepositions and
adverbs, as to keep away, to keep down, to keep from,
to keep in, out, or off, etc. "To keep off impertinence
and solicitation from his superior." --Addison.
4. To have in custody; to have in some place for
preservation; to take charge of.
The crown of Stephanus, first king of Hungary, was
always kept in the castle of Vicegrade. --Knolles.
5. To preserve from danger, harm, or loss; to guard.
Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee. --Gen.
6. To preserve from discovery or publicity; not to
communicate, reveal, or betray, as a secret.
Great are thy virtues . . . though kept from man.
7. To attend upon; to have the care of; to tend.
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the
garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it. --Gen.
In her girlish age, she kept sheep on the moor.
8. To record transactions, accounts, or events in; as, to
keep books, a journal, etc.; also, to enter (as accounts,
records, etc. ) in a book.
9. To maintain, as an establishment, institution, or the
like; to conduct; to manage; as, to keep store.
Like a pedant that keeps a school. --Shak.
Every one of them kept house by himself. --Hayward.
10. To supply with necessaries of life; to entertain; as, to
11. To have in one's service; to have and maintain, as an
assistant, a servant, a mistress, a horse, etc.
I keep but three men and a boy. --Shak.
12. To have habitually in stock for sale.
13. To continue in, as a course or mode of action; not to
intermit or fall from; to hold to; to maintain; as, to
keep silence; to keep one's word; to keep possession.
Both day and night did we keep company. --Shak.
Within this portal as I kept my watch. --Smollett.
14. To observe; to adhere to; to fulfill; not to swerve from
or violate; to practice or perform, as duty; not to
neglect; to be faithful to.
I have kept the faith. --2 Tim. iv.
Him whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command. --Milton.
15. To confine one's self to; not to quit; to remain in; as,
to keep one's house, room, bed, etc.; hence, to haunt; to
'Tis hallowed ground;
Fairies, and fawns, and satyrs do it keep. --J.
16. To observe duly, as a festival, etc.; to celebrate; to
solemnize; as, to keep a feast.
I went with them to the house of God . . . with a
multitude that kept holyday. --Ps. xlii. 4.
To keep at arm's length. See under Arm, n.
To keep back.
(a) To reserve; to withhold. "I will keep nothing back
from you." --Jer. xlii. 4.
(b) To restrain; to hold back. "Keep back thy servant
also from presumptuous sins." --Ps. xix. 13.
To keep company with.
(a) To frequent the society of; to associate with; as,
let youth keep company with the wise and good.
(b) To accompany; to go with; as, to keep company with
one on a voyage; also, to pay court to, or accept
attentions from, with a view to marriage. [Colloq.]
To keep counsel. See under Counsel, n.
To keep down.
(a) To hold in subjection; to restrain; to hinder.
(b) (Fine Arts) To subdue in tint or tone, as a portion
of a picture, so that the spectator's attention may
not be diverted from the more important parts of the
To keep good hours or To keep bad hours, to be
customarily early (or late) in returning home or in
retiring to rest.
To keep house.
(a) To occupy a separate house or establishment, as with
one's family, as distinguished from boarding; to
manage domestic affairs.
(b) (Eng. Bankrupt Law) To seclude one's self in one's
house in order to evade the demands of creditors.
To keep one's hand in, to keep in practice.
To keep open house, to be hospitable.
To keep the peace (Law), to avoid or to prevent a breach of
To keep school, to govern, manage and instruct or teach a
school, as a preceptor.
To keep a stiff upper lip, to keep up one's courage.
To keep term.
(a) (Eng. Universities) To reside during a term.
(b) (Inns of Court) To eat a sufficient number of dinners
in hall to make the term count for the purpose of
being called to the bar. [Eng.] --Mozley & W.
To keep touch. See under Touch, n.
To keep under, to hold in subjection; hence, to oppress.
To keep up.
(a) To maintain; to prevent from falling or diminution;
as, to keep up the price of goods; to keep up one's
(b) To maintain; to continue; to prevent from ceasing.
"In joy, that which keeps up the action is the desire
to continue it." --Locke.
Syn: To retain; detain; reserve; preserve; hold; restrain;
maintain; sustain; support; withhold. -- To Keep.
Usage: Retain, Preserve. Keep is the generic term, and is
often used where retain or preserve would too much
restrict the meaning; as, to keep silence, etc. Retain
denotes that we keep or hold things, as against
influences which might deprive us of them, or reasons
which might lead us to give them up; as, to retain
vivacity in old age; to retain counsel in a lawsuit;
to retain one's servant after a reverse of fortune.
Preserve denotes that we keep a thing against agencies
which might lead to its being destroyed or broken in
upon; as, to preserve one's health; to preserve
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :
Arm \Arm\, n. [AS. arm, earm; akin to OHG. aram, G., D., Dan., &
Sw. arm, Icel. armr, Goth. arms, L. armus arm, shoulder, and
prob. to Gr. ? joining, joint, shoulder, fr. the root ? to
join, to fit together; cf. Slav. rame. ?. See Art,
1. The limb of the human body which extends from the shoulder
to the hand; also, the corresponding limb of a monkey.
2. Anything resembling an arm; as,
(a) The fore limb of an animal, as of a bear.
(b) A limb, or locomotive or prehensile organ, of an
(c) A branch of a tree.
(d) A slender part of an instrument or machine, projecting
from a trunk, axis, or fulcrum; as, the arm of a
(e) (Naut) The end of a yard; also, the part of an anchor
which ends in the fluke.
(f) An inlet of water from the sea.
(g) A support for the elbow, at the side of a chair, the
end of a sofa, etc.
3. Fig.: Power; might; strength; support; as, the secular
arm; the arm of the law.
To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? --Isa. lii.
Arm's end, the end of the arm; a good distance off.
Arm's length, the length of the arm.
Arm's reach, reach of the arm; the distance the arm can
To go (or walk) arm in arm, to go with the arm or hand
of one linked in the arm of another. "When arm in armwe
went along." --Tennyson.
To keep at arm's length, to keep at a distance (literally
or figuratively); not to allow to come into close contact
or familiar intercourse.
To work at arm's length, to work disadvantageously.
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